The themes we chose for our study of poetry reflected the deeper interests of a Gurdjieff Group: life and death, war and peace, time, the stars, the sun, the moon, youth and old age, choices, hope, faith and charity, regeneration and renewal, the seasons, as well as humorous poems, long narrative poems (i.e. “The Ancient Mariner”) and poems with strong rhythms.
Poems in dialect and those in languages other than English were read by those familiar with the language, and the latter were usually read later in translation.
Themes emerged from discussion, quite often arising naturally from the previous theme - as in the case of the seasons or the sun followed by the moon. The theme was chosen several weeks in advance of a meeting to allow time to search for poems that evoke the theme to the individual reader.
One such theme was: A Journey Shared
...Suddenly the bus driver
stops with a jolt,
turns off his lights.
A moose has come out
of the impenetrable wood
and stands there, looms, rather,
in the middle of the road.
It approaches; it sniffs at
the bus's hot hood.
high as a church,
homely as a house
(or, safe as houses).
A man's voice assures us
Extract from The Moose by Elizabeth Bishop
"I find many favourite poems are revisited because they speak on more than one theme and resonate on several levels. The current theme of “a journey shared” immediately evokes for me the shared experience of the long distance bus passengers in Elizabeth Bishop’s “The Moose”, in those few moments when they are each suddenly and unexpectedly confronted by the moose halting their journey."